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What does Cat C car insurance mean

11 Feb 2014 at 10:34

Trawling through the classified listings of used cars, you might come across the term “Cat C”. But what does it mean?

Cat C actually stands for Category C. It is used to denote a specific case of car insurance write-off after a vehicle has been damaged or stolen.

Vehicles written off after an accident, a flood, or fire damage are often classified as Cat C. In its simplest form, it means that although the car is repairable, the cost of the parts and/or labour would exceed the value of the vehicle.

From a business point of view, if your car insurance company deems the damage to be beyond economic repair, it will probably be classified as a Cat C write-off.

What happens to Cat C insurance write-offs?

As a result, these Cat C car write-offs are often sold at special auctions to motor traders and repair garages that can fix the vehicles at trade prices – usually much less than an insurance company would be charged.

Because there is a margin for these traders and repair businesses within the car, insurance companies can sell Cat C cars through these channels and recoup some money from the sale.

Are Cat C cars less safe than normal cars?

If the car has been repaired properly and to a good standard by a reputable garage, there’s no reason that any Cat C vehicle shouldn’t be as safe as a new, undamaged car.

For example, if you were to have a tiny bump in a used executive saloon that featured parking and radar guided cruise control sensors in its bumpers, the cost of these parts might outweigh the price of the second-hand vehicle itself – even though no structural damage has been caused.

This is why surprisingly lightly damaged cars get written off under the Category C rules.

Even so, if you’re thinking of buying a Category C insurance write-off, it could be worth getting an independent inspection to warrant the quality of the repair work, deeming the car safe to be used on the public road. Companies such as the RAC can help here.

Can Cat C insurance write-offs be put back on the road?

Cat C insurance write-offs can be put pack on the road once the damaged vehicle has undergone a governmental Vehicle Identity Check. Passing this means the car can once again get a registration certificate – although it will always carry the ‘Cat C’ listing on its records.

However, this only checks the identity of the vehicle and not the mechanical state of the car. That’s why we suggest an independent inspection.

How do I spot a Cat C insurance write-off?

A professional motor trader does have to outline if a vehicle has been written off. However, a private seller doesn’t.

That’s why we’d recommend running a car check on the vehicle before any potential purchase. All you need is the registration and the RAC can do the rest for you, outlining the vehicle’s history, if it’s recorded stolen, or if it has any outstanding finance.

Why are Cat C insurance write-offs generally cheaper?

Often, a Cat C car will be on sale for less than the market value. This doesn’t necessarily mean it is worse than another car of its type, it just reflects that the car has previously been repaired.

However, it doesn’t take into account the type of damage. Beware that if you do buy a Cat C car, when you come to sell it the vehicle might not be worth as much as you think.

There’s no reason not to buy a Cat C insurance write-off if you can guarantee it’s in first-class condition. Equally, if you steer clear of a Cat C car when you’re looking for a used vehicle, we understand.

We want to know what proportion of you would buy a Cat C insurance write-off and what proportion of you wouldn’t?

Maybe you own or have owned a vehicle recorded as a Cat C in the past? Tell us about you experience on twitter or leave a comment on the RAC Facebook page .